Nature Writing Course

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How could you not feel inspired to write by a view like this?

If you would like to improve your skills then come along to one of the nature writing courses I am running as part of the Up on the Downs festival which is taking place  between the 25th July and the 9th August.

On Monday 27th July we will be at the beautiful coastal reserve of Samphire Hoe, near Dover in Kent. We will be taking a walk across one of the newest bits of England, enjoying the beautiful flowers and gaining inspiration from the seascapes.

Then on Sunday 2nd August there is another chance to take part when we will be walking from Lydden Village Hall through woodland and across chalk downland.

Both courses start at 10am and finish around 4.00pm. Please bring water, lunch and writing materials.

The courses are free and are ideal for anyone who would like to improve their nature writing whether you write for your own pleasure, for a blog or for publication. There will be no obligation to read out your work.

To book a place call 01304 241806

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Estuary Life – The Next Step

I have signed with an agent but where next?

I have signed with an agent but where next?

I am pleased to tell you that I have just signed with literary agency Hardman and Swainson who will be hard at work hopefully finding Estuary Life a publishing deal in the near future, but will it still be called Estuary Life? Probably not, we are currently toying with various titles, something I will be the first to say I have never been good at, but hopefully we will come up with something which appeals soon.

Joanna Swainson was an early advocate for the idea behind this book and gave me faith that I was onto something when all I had was one chapter and some rough plans. She came to visit the marshes on a terribly wet winters day and subsequently her and partner, Nick Russell-Pavier joined me on a outing to Elmley Marshes. I am really looking forward to working with Joanna over the next few months.

Having wrestled this book into existence I am most certainly into my writing groove and already beginning to think about ideas for my next book. If you would like advice on nature writing and publishing then why not come along to one of the two nature writing courses I am running in the next couple of weeks for the Up on the Downs Festival. See the events page for more details.

 

A Good Read – Silt Road, The Story of a Lost River – Charles Rangeley-Wilson

untitled (5)I read this book in superfast time, drawn on by its underlying melancholy. A sadness of the author both for the buried and brutalised river whose history he charts and a personal sadness, hinted at but, with admirable constraint, never quite revealed.

As someone who has worked on many river restoration projects and known the teeth grinding frustration of coming up against official inertia, short sightedness and profit margins, as if these were something I personally was supposed to care about, then I fully understood Rangeley-Wilson’s anger at the tiny, self interested decisions made by councillors with hands in developers pockets. Decisions which then go on to suck the life out of a town and its inhabitants for a long time to come.

The story of the River Wye in High Wycombe, that this book uncovers, could be the story of so many of our rivers. Essential to the towns that grew up around them, bound up in our history, once beautiful and then lost under concrete. It could well have been the story of my own local river, The Beam which flows into Romford in Essex. Once an essential part of the towns brewery industry, it too now is buried under concrete with plans for its resurrection shelved in favour of a car park and shopping centre. It is a sign of the times, where we once worshipped river Gods, now our Gods are shopping and cars.

Silt Road is not an uplifting read but the universality of its subject allows us all to recognise, think about and understand the rivers which flow in and around our towns better. Towards the end of this book you begin to will the author on, hoping for a happy ending, wanting Charles Rangeley-Wilson to save his river, unearth it from its tomb and give it back to the town but it is not to be.

The book does end, however, with a little glimmer of hope. As the author sits in a café and watches the people of the town drawn to the one water feature they have left. Reaching out in order to touch and connect with this element and, in doing so, maybe connect with an inner part of themselves which, like the river, is buried deep underground.

 

An Interview with Stephen Turner in The Mudlark

Stephen Turner in Darnet Fort

Stephen Turner in Darnet Fort copyright: Stephen Turner

Last year I was lucky enough to interview the artist Stephen Turner in his studio at Chatham Dockyard. Stephen talked to me about his time camping on Hoo and Darnet Islands in the Medway Estuary and his concerns for the future of the area. The article is published this month in the Mudlark, an annual publication by the Medway and Swale Estuary Partnership. Read a copy of the magazine here;

http://issuu.com/medwaycouncil/docs/mudlark-2015-lr

or read the full article below

Escape to an Island-page-001

Escape to an Island-page-002

Escape to an Island-page-003

Learn from the master

Learn from the master

George Monbiot

George Monbiot

Don’t miss this chance to learn how to put your arguments across from the master of environmental journalism. George Monbiot has been one of the most outspoken journalists in recent years, creating well formed arguments on everything from re-wilding, flood management and climate change in his Guardian newspaper columns. This masterclass, taking place in London in mid August will help anyone wanting to create well structured and professional opinion pieces either in print or online. I for one, snapped up the opportunity to book a place. http://www.theguardian.com/guardian-masterclasses/2015/jun/16/column-writing-with-george-monbiot-journalism-course1